Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Entering a New Phase

The Board of the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) met at noon today and, after an executive session that lasted just six minutes, voted unanimously to approve the purchase/sale agreement for the Montgomery Street parcel. All the members of the HDC Board, except for Council president Tom DePietro, an ex officio member of the board, were present at the meeting.

The identity of the purchaser of the property has still not been officially revealed. That is expected happen after the closing on the sale, which is anticipated will happen in about ten days. After the vote was taken, Bob Rasner, president of the HDC Board, declared, "There will be five acres back on the tax rolls. The community should be satisfied." He went on to say that the buyer will develop their plans and present them to the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals as applicable, and he expressed the hope that the regulatory boards will "make good decisions quickly . . . not as we are currently seeing in other projects." The reference may have been to the Colarusso matter, which has been before the Planning Board for more than four years now. Paul Colarusso is a member of the HDC Board.

In her executive director's report, which was presented at the end of the meeting, Branda Maholtz spoke of the organization's plans "for our immediate future and beyond." In her remarks, Maholtz spoke of change, saying, "Sometimes it's slow, sometimes it happens quickly, and you aren't sure why it's happening. But Hudson has this uncanny ability to succeed despite all the negative outcry and vitriol, despite the dialectical opinions that always seem to rear their head in the face of change."

Maholtz stressed Hudson's small size--just 2.3 square miles--and the need to come together to address issues and solve problems.
We're a small city with big city issues to tackle. We all need to work together and make decisions for the future of this city, and sometimes that does mean putting personal agendas aside. If we can't do this, if we can't compromise, we have created nothing but an "us versus them" situation over and over again. This stalls any progress or potential forward movement.  
She continued on that theme of coming together to touch on the Colarusso issue:
I think Hudson can achieve a healthy balance here. We have a robust tourism economy, we have a creative economy that is unsurpassed, we have industry, history, and recreation. But our good fortune may not continue if we don't figure out how to work--at least a little bit--together. Nothing will get done, nothing will progress, if we just keep arguing past each other.
The haul road may be an example here. You blur your eyes a little bit, and you can see two clear sides: one that seems to always be attacking, and one that's always defending. The extremes are louder, but the point here is that conversation--which opens the door for compromise--is always already hard from these extreme positions. And look where we're at with the haul road--a whole lot of nothing since 2017. . . .
She then returned to the theme of Hudson's small size:
Hudson is a city of limits. But there are benefits to limits. It forces us to be creative, to use what we have, waste nothing, practice restraint, to be more intentional. . . . We must do better at understanding our limits as a town--both businesses and as a community--and how we can address them together, collectively, in a balanced way. 

Regarding the issue of Colarusso, the haul road, its dock operation, and its continued presence on the waterfront, the Planning Board has scheduled a special meeting to continue its consideration of the Colarusso conditional use permit applications for Thursday, September 23, at 6:00 p.m. The information thus far is that the meeting will take place at City Hall, but, given that only ten audience members are currently permitted in the Council Chamber, it is likely it may be a Zoom meeting.



  1. I agree that the side "that seems to always be attacking" is the Colarusso company. The "defenders" are those who stand for the compromise already achieved in the 2011 waterfront program.

    THAT was the compromise Colarusso bought into in 2014, though later the investors had buyer's remorse.

    Any spin on that reality, which is what Maholtz, et al, seem to be driving at, is utter bullshit from mendacious nobodies who weren't even here at the time.

    You people will not move the goalposts to some new "compromise" just to cover your colleague's bad business decision.

    The 2011 compromise took over three years to achieve. THAT is the compromise which the company "seems to always be attacking," the same compromise which the public's defended ever since.

    Only too happy to pressure the Planning Board, the dishonesty of these disgraceful hacks is without end. Unreal.

  2. For anyone who hasn't been following the issue carefully, here's a few basics regarding the Colarusso application:

    ~ The City of Hudson re-zoned our waterfront in 2011, and the new zoning included a trigger that required the owner of the industrial dock to under a full review if they made any physical alterations to the property. Indeed Colarusso did some work on the bulkhead, and that is the reason the company is under review at present. The interesting aspect of the situation is that the company has no permits, no grandfathered status. Colarusso is before the Planning Board as a new applicant. They are operating only because the City allowed them to continue shipping gravel while their application is under review.

    ~ Early in the review, Colarusso filed a lawsuit against our Planning Board, hoping to avoid any scrutiny whatsoever. A NY Supreme Court judge threw the suit out, and reminded the company that they have no operating status at the moment. The lawsuit took a year-and-a-half to process in court, so in effect the Colarusso attorney cost his client a bunch of money and set the process back significantly.

    ~ Also early on, our Planning Board asked the company to provide basic truck traffic data, so the members of the Board could analyze the traffic numbers and reach a rational conclusion. The company refused to provide the data for three years, but finally commissioned a proper truck traffic study after the Board voted 7-0 to demand the numbers. The study was carried out by a firm called Creighton-Manning, and the results clearly demonstrate that Colarusso is hoping to ramp up the volume of gravel production by a massive amount. The company is claiming that the City lacks the authority to put any upside limit on the volume of truck traffic.

    ~ In addition to applying for a permit to continue shipping gravel from the waterfront dock, Colarusso is also applying to build a double-wide, paved industrial route through South Bay, and also seeks two brand new 90 degree intersections on Routes 9 & 9G coming into the City. The company also plans to send hundreds of heavy dump trucks over the rail lines at Broad St., where 28 trains pass thru daily (13 passengers north, 13 south, and 2 freights.)

    ~ Colarusso has tried to frame their proposal as an "Environmental Justice" initiative aimed at getting their trucks out of the minority neighborhood along the Columbia St. route, but it's clear that the real objective is much bigger volume, with the added possibility that someday the operation could be sold off to one of the larger cement / aggregate firms.

    ~ At the moment the Planning Board is about to make the determination whether Colarusso will have to submit a full Environment Impact Statement. That document will require the company to provide a huge amount of information regarding diesel emissions, traffic impacts, economic impacts, effects on the waterfront park, etc.

    ~ It's also worth noting that two years before Colarusso bought their waterfront property, the State of NY designated South Bay as a Significant Coastal Fish & Wildlife Habitat. That status will be taken into consideration during the review process, and will weigh heavily on the outcome in the likely event that Colarusso faces a Coastal Consistency Review. That type of review is what put an end to the St. Lawrence Cement proposition in 2005.

    ~ Given the above, Colarusso is facing a very steep climb, and one wonders if the company and its counsel bothered to read any of the relevant documents before deciding to commit four years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to the process.

    1. A good overview Peter. Of course a detailed catalogue of the landowner's dishonesties would go on for pages, some of the worst infractions never even investigated.

      The applicant's serial misrepresentations - also before the Greenport Planning Board members who seemed to welcome them - are by now such a constant force in this saga they're the best indication that the company absolutely read every document and statute before investing nearly $8 million. The circumstances were processed and a strategy was born.

      In a nutshell it goes like this: Hudson residents, both old and new, are so incredibly stupid that all one has to do is wait them out. [Seemingly true!] You can even frame the calculated waiting period as an unreasonable privation on property and be assured that the world is chock-full of Branda Maholtzs on local boards and committees to deliver those extra assists.

      One can easily imagine the company's Albany-based junkyard-dog attorney assuring them, "I can get you through this." The owners would have nodded, knowing how easily city government is manipulated with elected representatives, appointed board members, and faithless advisors changing as rapidly as the weather. (Miner's take the long view.)

      When you factor in the HDC's latest bullying of residents and Planning Board members - a polite twist of the knife from those who took no part in our waterfront planning - we despair that the company's other wrongdoings will ever be investigated.

      In 2015, the landowner got away with widening its private road east of Rte. 9-G. In retrospect, and following actions they didn't get away with at the bulkhead and revetment, everyone now understands that the 2015 road work should have triggered a property-wide review. That was the court's conclusion regarding the bulkhead work a year later.

      (As it happens, the illicit surfacing of the private road in 2015 nearly completed the grand compromise of 2011, a plan which anyone who really cares about Environmental Justice still aspires to finish, total frauds like Linda Mussman notwithstanding. [Message to Ms. Maholtz: THAT was the compromise, fool!])

      But who'll investigate the alleged filing felony (FELONY!) of the company's 2014 deed, which would represent the opening transgression to the nonstop dishonesty that's followed? After all, it was the deed's alleged "conservation easement" that paved the way for Greenport's dismissal of a full environmental review as explained in Greenport's SEQRA negative declaration.

      Because the alleged easement was not among Hudson's complaints in its court petition against Greenport (having ignored the public's good advice), this possible crime is still hanging out there for someone else to solve.

      You know, that's a terrific simple question to put to someone like Branda Maholtz: "Who holds the alleged easement?"

      [A: Like everything else from this applicant, it's more lies facilitated by faithless local officials/tools.]

  3. I'm very happy for the HDC Board, who have collectively (with the exception of the ex officio members) worked very hard to close this deal.

    Having said that, I'm more than a little disturbed that anyone from the Board would use this platform to advocate on behalf of one of the Board member's business interests, either directly or indirectly.

    Incidentally, when Paul Colarusso joined the Board, he indicated he would recuse himself from any decisions involving the waterfront to avoid potential conflicts. It doesn't sound like he followed through.

    1. Yes he did say that, didn't he.

      It seems that none of them are very concerned with the optics, or else bad optics were meant to be quelled by a newcomer politely lecturing locals on the virtues of "compromise."

      Those who took part in the waterfront program's Great Compromise are infuriated by this. What we went through! The audacity to simply bypass it and then lecture us! The gall!

      Meanwhile, the Mussman's of the world who only pretend to care about Environmental Justice only find new ways to milk their constituent's dim comprehension of the 2011 compromise.

      Allow me to remind these utter frauds that the Great Compromise of 2011 offered a comprehensive solution a host of problems, and was even adopted as Local Law:

      1. It streamlined the grandfathered right to truck gravel to the river by redeveloping a private woodland route straight to the mine;

      2. The woodland road answered everyone's Environmental Justice concerns as the City would then restrict all but local truck traffic west of 3rd Street;

      3. Once the one-lane road across the causeway is used in both directions of travel - pay attention: ONE-LANE; TWO-WAY - then industrial activity at the waterfront would be limited to the number of trucks that can take turns using the one-lane road.

      (Incredibly, no one has ever, ever, ever considered just how many trucks that might be. It could be a lot, but so be it. Addressing such a basic question would be essential to a properly conducted EIS.)

      4. Used in both directions of travel, the surmise that a ONE-LANE private road would automatically limit truck numbers through the wetlands would serve as a mitigating factor in the South Bay's delicate ecosystem.

      So to now be lectured by newcomers who have zero knowledge about any of this is insufferable. These people are as cynical as Supervisor Mussman, who's done nothing in 10 years to see the 2011 Environmental Justice solution to its completion, nothing aside from continually twisting the facts of the city's adopted waterfront policies in order to exploit the ignorance of the policies' beneficiaries who never followed any of this to begin with.

      So even if Mr. Colarusso recuses himself, his know-nothing colleagues who share Ms. Mussman's cynicism will still take their cues from the industry.

      What a stupid ugly place we live in!

  4. Hello All, I don't normally like to post, but I wanted to be sure that Gossips' readers were well-informed.

    No one on HDC was speaking on behalf of their fellow board member nor was I speaking on behalf of a board member or their businesses.

    In fact, you can see my full comments from the meeting here:

    I provided many examples of hard decisions that the community, the elected and appointed officials, and other leaders of the community have to make and how these have immense economic impact on our city's finances AND everyday life. My use of Colarusso's process through the planning board is an example of how extremes in opinion hamper some of the process and progress in general. If that isn't evident in the comments for this post, there I don't know what is.

    There was no need for any of our board members to recuse themselves in the decision to proceed with the sale of the Montgomery Street Parcels.

    Have a wonderful weekend, Hudson. I don't think I'm the only one, but I think there are some really intelligent, amazing people in this beautiful city. --Branda

    1. Sorry Branda, but it seems you're condescending again, at pains to teach us plebs how difficult it is for the delicate experts to arrive at responsible planning and policies.

      That the problem is attitudinal points to your misconception of actual government, which is of the people, by the people, and for the people. The quasi-governmental role of your corporation introduces its own unique challenges to proper governance, which is something you're demonstrating right now.

      First, the HDC labors under a terrible legacy of secrecy and circumventing public opinion (and that's compared to the city's own bad reputation where public participation is often required).

      One such program where public participation is absolutely required is the LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitalization Program). Your comment about the Colarusso application bears directly on hard decisions already hammered out over a decade ago between citizens, the previous landowner, and all levels government. That's why I say NO when you attempt to change the context to the challenges for "elected and appointed officials, and other leaders of the community."

      Your top-down thinking is typical of the HDC, and it's led you to comment inappropriately on the Colarusso application and indirectly on the LWRP.

      In other words, you're now poaching on the relationship between citizens, their elected representatives, and the hard won program achieved by all of the above before you'd ever set foot in Hudson.

      Who do you think you are to impose your HDC role into that relationship? Who are you to lecture us on the difficulty of responsible policy-making when at the same time you're ignoring a gigantic set of comprehensive planning policies which citizens worked so hard to affect over several years?

      Your words as quoted by Gossips (and Carole is a superb note-taker) are infuriating. YOU are the one offering "extreme opinions" which are masquerading as reason. It is YOU who's hampering "the process and progress in general," and also specifically as I've pointed out here.

      It's your same unfamiliarity with your own thinking as shaped by the HDC's internal culture which blinds you to your colleague's influence over your thinking about the Colarusso application. (I'm not blaming Mr. Colarusso at all, but considering your apparent ignorance about the LWRP how can it be otherwise?) For that reason alone - but also so many others - nobody representing the HDC should be commenting on the efforts of citizens and the work of the Planning Board vis-a-vis any application that doesn't concern the HDC.

      Shame on you for posing as a government official. You are not. Shame on you for attempting to displace our hard won LWRP with the sham lecture about the difficulty of policy-making. It is you who are disrespecting the community, and not the other way around.

    2. Tim, stop being a mansplainer. No one, least of all Branda, needs a file clerk to explain her own words to her. Pompous blowhard.

    3. Nice insults.

      Okay then, you explain why Branda Maholtz has single-handedly disqualified a hard won planning policy which preceded her arrival here by years. (The fact that she's done so by explaining how "extremists" never appreciate how difficult planning is contemptible.)

      So what's in it for her?

      The public spends years devising a plan along with the city, the state, the former landowner, and Scenic Hudson to arrive at the only possible balance between competing interests. The Common Council adopts the compromise into local law and amends the zoning accordingly.

      Then, after the South Bay is purchased by the Colarusso company, the new owner proposes a variation of the already agreed-upon road alternative, but a variation that trashes the deliberately limited scale of the original plans by jettisoning that plan's carefully considered safe-guards.

      Because she won't do it, then you must explain why Branda Maholtz is now telling Hudson residents that they're unreasonable to refuse the updated compromise which completely capsizes the old one it took years to reach?

      Why does that make anyone who cleaves to the 2011 waterfront program an "extremist"?

      Branda Maholtz is undermining the public will as expressed by the 2011 Common Council and further undermining confidence in the HDC. She should issue a correction at once, or even step down.

    4. Yes, Tim, Branda — a poet and artist who earns a pittance in her role with HDC and in return gets to have her character and motives questioned by a halfwit such as yourself — is really in the employ of a shadowy cartel of not for profit corporation directors and a local business owner in a mad scheme to thwart your interpretation of the LWRP and its zoning law changes.